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NIA postpones examination of two key members of Khalsa Aid indefinitely

A file photo of a protest held by Sikhs for Justice in New York.  

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has examined 12 persons so far in connection with a recent case registered against Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a foreign-based group banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2019 for advocating secessionist and pro-Khalistani activities in India.

The NIA had on January 15 summoned around 40 persons to be examined by the agency as ‘witness’ in the SFJ case registered on December 15, 2020. All the persons who received NIA notices have either participated in the ongoing farmers’ agitation at the Delhi borders or have provided humanitarian aid at the protest site.

The examination by the NIA of two key members of Khalsa Aid, an international NGO, has been postponed indefinitely.

“There was meant to be a hearing of two key Indian team members today and tomorrow [Monday and Tuesday], they [the NIA] postponed it. They were informed on phone that the hearing is postponed till further notice,” Ravinder Singh, founder of Khalsa Aid, said.

Also read: Congress, Akali Dal hit out at BJP over NIA notices to farmers

The NGO had set up food stalls and provided foot massage machines and geysers to farmers protesting at Delhi border since November 26. The farmer unions have demanded repeal of the three farm laws passed by Parliament in September last.

Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu, who campaigned for the BJP’s Sunny Deol in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency during the 2019 general elections, did not appear before the NIA on Sunday.

Mr. Sidhu, who has been camping at the Singhu border for the past two months, said, “I have not received a single penny in my account or my family’s account from overseas or anybody in India or any NGO. There is nothing anti-national we are doing but this [the NIA notice] is politically motivated. All who have been served notices are part of farmers’ protest. We are not going to shy away from any kind of investigation,” he said. He said “no one out of the purview of the protests” had got NIA summons and many had skipped the hearing.

Also read: NIA notices: Oppressive tactics to undermine farmers’ spirit, says Amarinder

“Even though the notice asks us to appear as a witness, they have kept it open under Section 120 B IPC [criminal conspiracy]. Tomorrow they might use this case to chargesheet us. I am a lawyer and I can see the pressure tactics. Provisions are such we cannot even defend ourselves. Some of them were grilled and were indirectly told not be part of the protests. A transporter who provided bus service was grilled and was told why was he sending the vehicles to the protest site. They wanted to know where the money came from etc …. I have taken out all bank statement, there is nothing,”

The notices sent on January 15 include that sent to a farm leader, a TV journalist, a cable TV operator, tourist bus owner, an actor, a sweet shop owner and other businessmen.

Jasveer Singh Muktsar, a journalist with U.K.-based TV channel KTV who has been covering the protests at Delhi border and was asked to appear on Monday, said he had sought more time after speaking to his lawyer.

Baldev Singh Sirsa, a farmer leader, did not appear before the NIA on Sunday. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a joint front of farmer unions engaged in dialogue with Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal, has condemned the NIA notice and asked people not to appear before the agency.

The NIA registered a fresh case against the SFJ on December 15, 2020 where it alleged that large amounts of funds being collected by Khalistani terrorist outfits are being sent through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to pro-Khalistani elements based in India. The FIR said designated terrorists such as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Paramjeet Singh Pamma, Hardeep Singh Nijjar and others spearheaded campaigns to collect huge funds for on-ground campaign and propaganda against the Government of India that includes staging demonstrations against Indian missions in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Germany.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 2:59:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nia-postpones-examination-of-two-key-members-of-khalsa-aid-indefinitely/article33603249.ece

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